Lukashenka: Olympics is big politics

Alyaksandr Lukashenka described on Tuesday the Olympics as "big politics" and warned that competition for Olympic medals had "intensified to the maximum."

 
Alyaksandr Lukashenka described on Tuesday the Olympics as "big politics" and warned that competition for Olympic medals had "intensified to the maximum."

Speaking at a meeting with Belarusian athletes who will take part in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next month, Mr. Lukashenka noted that their high results would help boost Belarus' image in the international arena. "Our state has done whatever is necessary for you to be able to prepare calmly and have a worthy performance in this competition," the presidential press office quoted him as saying.

In an apparent reference to recent high-profile doping scandals, Mr. Lukashenka noted that "certain athletes and even countries" were targeted by "non-sporting methods of pressure" while people were no longer surprised at revisions of the results from past Olympics.

"The conditions for competition in Rio will not be easy, they may be even hard. I am sure that you will cope with this enormous strain and produce a worthy result," he said.

Mr. Lukashenka noted that the government set no medal targets for the team this time. However, he added, Belarus has the right to expect all Belarusian athletes to push themselves to the limit at the Olympics.

Mr. Lukashenka expressed gratitude to the Belarusian national women's basketball team for qualifying for the Olympics and said that "our men should look up to our girls."

Medal-winning Belarusian Olympics will enjoy much love and attention from fans at home and will also be lavishly rewarded by the government, he promised.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Mr. Lukashenka presented canoeist Alyaksandr Bahdanovich with a Belarusian state flag. Mr. Bahdanovich, the Olympic team's captain, in his turn handed the flag to shooter Syarhey Martynaw who will be the country's flag bearer at the Olympics opening ceremony.

Rhythmic gymnasts Melitsina Stanyuta and Katsyaryna Halkina presented Mr. Lukashenka with souvenir badges.

Mr. Lukashenka presented an Order of Honor to tennis player Maksim Mirny (Max Mirnyi) in recognition of his contribution to the development of sports in Belarus and his Olympic gold in the tennis mixed doubles at the 2012 London games.